Top 40 Best Studio Madhouse Anime (Ranked)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Studio Madhouse are one of the Big Boys of anime.
They’ve pumped out hit after hit in their decades of business, from horror to comedy to romance to action.
They’ve proven themselves a suitable choice for adaptations time and time again, never sparing details and always willing to fulfill the ambition of the original artist.
And they’ve got one hell of a track record.
If you’re looking for more Studio Madhouse in your anime diet then you’ll enjoy this list of their greatest works, ranking them all – so buckle in, because this is gonna be a big one!
Claymore is an action-packed gore-fest set across a medieval world.
Youma are human-eating monsters capable of shapeshifting. They wreak havoc and devastation on villages, and so Claymore were established to handle them. Those turned into a Claymore accept half-Youma DNA within themselves, granting them greater strength and agility at the cost of their humanity.
The series follows Clare, a claymore with more humanity than her sisters, as she comes to discover the corruption of humanity, Youma, and Claymores, all go further than she thought.
Kemonozume is one of Masaaki Yuasa’s earlier works: a Romeo and Juliet between humans and monsters.
It’s quite a bit like Claymore, actually.
Except Kemonozume prioritizes romance, comedy, and drama over action.
The art is wacky and expressive, with plenty of personality and dynamic animation lending itself to the zany plot points. Definitely a hidden gem and worth a watch.
Sakamoto is a NEET with an unstable connection to his mother, unable to get a job, and lacking friends.
One of his only achievements is his leader-board topping skills at the video game Btooom! – something he comes to regret when he wakes up one day on a deserted island, tasked with a battle royal fight to the death with those around him.
Now his skills in the game are tested in reality; yet he still needs to develop social skills and a proactive attitude to survive.
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive conclusion to this anime yet.
But it’s a quick and enjoyable drama horror with plenty of action and a great hook.
37. My Love Story!
In this anime we learn the gargantuan, gorilla-like Takeo Gouda is actually a soft-hearted sweety with an intense romantic side.
This comes to the forefront when he meets the equally timid and soft Rinko Yamato, a girl with a meek and quaint disposition oppositional to his own.
They develop a love story together. And the rest of the show is them coming to terms with their insecurities and intimacy issues.
It’s a heartwarming romance with a good feel and brilliant production values. Plenty of people absolutely adore My Love Story!
36. Highschool of the Dead
Highschool of the Dead is unabashedly stupid, comprising Romero tropes in an ecchi harem anime set in a zombie apocalypse.
From the outright absurd action to the eclectic guitar work of the soundtrack, it’s a bizarre and wonderfully entertaining 12-episodes of nonsense.
Despite the copious amounts of fan service, Highschool of the Dead still remains fun to watch all thanks to the brilliant production design and its flippant approach towards narrative sense.
35. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
It was hard not to hear about The Girl Who Leapt Through Time just over a decade ago.
Yet now it’s fallen into the backdrop somewhat, due to the influx of anime films and popular series released throughout the 2010s.
Nonetheless, it’s still an entertaining freeform-time travel story with engaging characters and a wonderful central moral.
It’s impact hasn’t been fully realized yet, as I firmly believe it to have affected many anime films to come out after it.
34. Boogiepop Phantom
Boogiepop Phantom is a dementia-ridden and distorted cerebral horror, coated in a vintage feel that hasn’t aged a day.
The character designs are brilliant here, with each looking expressive and unique. And the story is consistently complex and keeps you questioning what’s going on.
Major props towards the sound design and soundtrack, as both seep the production in a 90s VHS aesthetic that lends itself to the narrative perfectly.
Memories is a film in three distinctly disconnected parts, each directed by a different critically acclaimed director.
The first part, Magnetic Rose, is by far the most impressive. It’s a Ridley-esque space horror set in an abandoned cosmic station. Two engineers discover an abandoned mansion, and are soon affected by the psychological effects of the building.
The second part, Stink Bomb, revolves around a lab-member accidentally enhancing his flatulence, making him a toxic threat to the city that needs to go into governmental lockdown.
It’s exactly what it sounds like.
The third part, Cannon Fodder, revolves around a city rife with cannons. And a boy who wants nothing more than to become an artillery officer much like his father.
Definitely worth a watch if you enjoy esoteric hidden gems.
32. Paradise Kiss
Authored by the same woman behind Nana, Paradise Kiss follows Yukari – a simple girl who’s thrown into the world of fashion by total accident.
The members of Yazawa Art Academy want nothing more than for Yukari to model for her. But she doesn’t know how.
The rest of the anime follows her josei exploration through the vain underworld of the fashion industry, and it’s dripping in the same mature themes that made Nana so special.
31. No Game No Life
Sora and Shiro are siblings. NEETs with no ambition or talents outside of their incredible tag-team gaming.
One day they receive an e-mail challenging them to a chess game, where they’re teleported to another world governed by games. The law is maintained via gaming, in all ways, and suddenly Shiro and Sora are given the opportunity to thrive like they never did in their own world.
This anime has got a wonderfully vibrant art style, with jarring pink outlines giving this aesthetic a certain magical pop that really distinguishes it from other Isekai.
Worth a watch, without a doubt.
30. Black Lagoon
Bokurou Okajima is a middle-aged Japanese businessman bored of life in Thailand, a place of crime and delinquency where he always feels on edge.
Nonetheless, he feels worse when he’s at work.
When a band of mercenaries on the Black Lagoon kidnap him for failed negotiations, they adopt him among their rank.
What follows is a blockbuster cinematic explosion of Bokurou coming to terms with the violent life of a criminal.
One of Madhouse’s classics, even if the episodic format can become tiresome. But it features a diverse cast of interesting characters and an awesome soundtrack.
29. Millennium Actress
This is one of Satoshi Kon’s more subdued works, telling a quaint documentary about Chiyoki Fujiwara: a lost idol of Shouwa Era cinema who has fallen into obscurity.
The movie encompasses a lifetime in under an hour-and-a-half, mixing metafictive elements of storytelling with a dream-like atmosphere. All to tell a story about life, reality, and the symbiotic relationship between an actor/actress and the characters they play.
Rainbow takes place in Shounan Special Reform School, an authoritarian academy for those with criminal charges.
Six teenagers are assigned the same cell. There they meet Sakuragi, an older brother figure who promises to protect them until they finish serving their sentence.
Together they fight against the unfair and unjust mechanisms of their imprisonment through thick and thin.
It’s a unique and soulful anime with plenty of heart and mature undertones.
27. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
The titular protagonist, D, is a dunpeal birthed by a vampire father and human mother. And he’s committed himself to the extermination of vampires.
He’s asked to find the royal Charlotte Elbourne and protect her against the creatures that threaten to cause her harm.
This anime is an overlooked artistic masterpiece, with brilliant atmosphere and art direction that keeps the simple narrative moving. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is absolutely worth checking out.
Two combatants of the Edo Era are about to fight: the one-armed Fujiki Gennosuke, and the blind Irako Seigen.
They draw their swords, lunge, and we’re taken back to way before the tournament…
The rest of the series builds up to their fight, showing their goals and ambitions and why they won’t let anything stop them from achieving victory – not even a gory, brutal death.
It’s a somber anime with a depressing mood and atmosphere that builds and builds until the climax. Shigurui is a slow burn into an explosion.
25. Mahjong Legend Akagi
Akagi is an intelligent, enigmatic teenager. He wanders into a dark den filled with mahjong players competing with large sums on the line.
Through circumstance, he ends up competing as a proxy for another player who’s 3-million yen in debt.
Akagi is also a gambling addict with an incredibly strong predisposition towards gaming and risk-taking. Go figure, eh?
Much like One Outs and another anime later in this list, Akagi is a thrill to watch from beginning to end. And it’s constantly nerve-wracking.
Every minute is tense. So when the episode ends you almost feel as if you have to click ‘next episode.’
24. Paranoia Agent
Satoshi Kon rarely lent his talents to television over movies. But I wish he had, because Paranoia Agent is brilliant.
It encapsulates on the dementia-toned societal horror that cinematic offerings are known for, but all in a serial, episodic package.
And it comes with an excellent and unforgettable plot twist.
There really aren’t enough anime like Paranoia Agent out there, and I could recommend it to nearly anybody.
23. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
There are plenty of anime about a group of friends in a band trying to make it big.
But Beck is by far my favorite.
It’s got an excellent dub with alternative variations of the stellar Japanese punk rock soundtrack, and features tons of diverse and well-written characters all with their own struggles.
The main character, Tanaka, undergoes a search for his Self. And looks for an understanding of his identity by picking up a guitar and listening to music.
This series is a simple, trope-filled breath of fresh air.
22. One Outs
One Outs is a mental warfare anime set on the baseball court.
It follows Tokuchi, a reckless gambling prodigy of the sport who’s scouted to a game of One Outs: an intense and competitive spinoff of baseball.
However, they’re playing with gargantuan stakes – as every time Tokuchi pitches a ball, he earns 5-million yen.
And every time he misses he loses 50-million yen.
It’s a nerve-wracking and adrenaline inducing sports anime with a constantly moving plot.
The characters serve their purpose perfectly, and the stakes are always rising.
This makes it an interesting watch for baseball lovers, but also one of the best gambling anime out there.
Without a doubt, Kaiba is one of Masaaki Yuasa’s most unique works – and that’s saying a lot, given Yuasa’s diverse portfolio of weird and eccentric anime.
This is a postmodern exploration of the self, memories, and human interdependence explored through a Western-inspired artstyle reminiscent of Disney or Osamu Tezuka.
It’s unlike any other anime out there.
A truly deep and mature philosophical dive into the self that deserves more recognition. Don’t pass on this one, but expect a slow and dreamlike pace with plenty of immersive qualities.
20. Summer Wars
Summer Wars is one of Mamoru Hosoda’s most universal works.
It’s a story about family revolving around a virtual reality called OZ, a place where people mingle and live secondary lives.
One day, Kenji Koiso is thrown into a world of cryptic texts and online battles that can affect the real world, all while he’s dealing with pretending to be the fiancé of his crush at their family get-together.
It’s funny, artistically gorgeous, and constantly entertaining.
19. Tokyo Godfathers
Tokyo Godfathers is yet another Satoshi Kon work.
However, this one tells a simpler and more wholesome story of three homeless people who are tasked with caring for a child at Christmas that they find in a dumpster.
This begins a night of crazy antics as they search for the mother, and in the process stumble into a mystery way above their nonexistent pay grade.
This anime is a soulful, spiritual movie with a warming center, despite the dark topics it tackles.
Tokyo Godfathers is another example of Satoshi Kon’s wonderful ability to maturely understand humans and convey them realistically through animation.
18. Hellsing Ultimate
Like you’ll see with two other entries deeper in this list, Hellsing Ultimate was Madhouse’s attempt to re-do an anime unfinished by another studio.
And they do it wonderfully, with ten 40-minute episodes offering a gory, absurd, comedic, and horrific story with a cinematic eye.
Allucard is one of the most bombastically violent protagonists in the medium. And Ultimate more than does the manga justice.
17. One Punch Man
One Punch Man was a cultural phenomenon when it came out.
Even my big brother watched it and he never watches anime.
It’s a parody of the super hero genre, and features a protagonist who can knock out any enemy with one punch. The animation, art direction, and sound work is all sublime – truly a quality anime.
It also doesn’t overly rely on its central gimmick. Instead it aims to craft a dense world rife with funny characters to progress the story forward.
Season one in particular – the one manned by Studio Madhouse – is exceptional, creating another boom in the anime community only two years after the release of Attack on Titan.
Texhnolyze is basically “Cyberpunk Nihilism: the Anime”.
It’s a depressing and bleak exploration into the self, through the crooked and dark underbelly of a deteriorating futuristic metropolis.
We follow Ichise, a boxer who pushes his luck too far and begins the series bleeding out in the streets after losing an arm and a leg.
The tone is perfect here, and it features brilliant production quality and direction. Check this out if you wanna feel sad or empty!
Paprika is like Inception, but through the distorted lens of Satoshi Kon.
Here’s the gist: The DC Mini is a powerful device that lets the user dive into another person’s dreams. So when it goes missing, those behind its creation enter a panicked quest to retrieve it.
What follows is a vibrant breakdown of the walls between reality and fiction.
It’s very imaginative, and has eccentric and unique music that will stick in your mind for years.
Redline was a laborious effort seven years in the making.
It tells the simple story of an extraterrestrial intergalactic race without any rules, and follows the driver JP – a womanizing daredevil determined to win the race at any cost.
Every scene is popping with detail and imagination, featuring hundreds of different alien environments and creatures and outstanding animation.
This all accentuated by the stellar soundtrack and sound design, all managing to sustain an energetic rollercoaster of a movie.
13. Blue Literature
Blue Literature adapts six famous Japanese stories by four different authors: Osamu Sazai, Ango Sakaguchi, Natsume Souseki, and Ryuunosuke Akutagawa.
Each is animated by a different esteemed artist, too.
There’s Ningen Shikkaku, telling a dark and depressed story of suicide and anomie.
Then Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita, focusing on the eccentric horror romance between a woman and a mountain bandit.
Kokoro as well: a tale of two people and the different ways they live and see the world.
Hashire, Melos! features a similar story between two men and the tense relationship between them.
Then Kumo no Ito, depicting a criminal attempting to climb his way out of persecution and guilt.
And lastly there’s Jigokuhen, concentrating on a painter commissioned by an evil king.
All of them are amazing, and this is an under loved and unfortunately forgotten classic from Madhouse.
12. Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
Kaiji is nervewrecking.
It’s about a man who’s suddenly responsible for a huge debt, and requested to play aboard an illegal gambling ship.
Once there, Kaiji is thrown into a world of deceit, tricks, cheating, strategy, and willpower, as he comes to realize he has a talent and doesn’t know when to stop.
Kaiji is as tense as an anime can get, with the stakes constantly rising with every episode to suffocating heights.
This is all punctuated with a unique, perfectly befitting art style and anxiety inducing soundtrack that makes it a must-watch for any fans of mind game anime.
When a parasitic lifeform attempts to control Shinichi, it fails to reach his brain and becomes trapped below the elbow.
When he wakes up for school the following morning, he discovers eyes and a mouth attached to his hand; it’s a creature that refers to itself as Migi, and it’s there to take over the human race alongside others of his species.
Without any choice, they form an unlikely and worrisome companionship to defend themselves from the other creatures keen to see them dead.
Parasyte is an entertaining horror action with a simple but effective philosophical moral center.
The soundtrack comprises dubstep and electronica for the set piece moments, with the occasional piano for emotional moments. It’s one of Madhouse’s contemporary best, and an unforgettable example of body horror.
10. A Place Further Than the Universe
Mari wants nothing more than to explore the world, always dreaming of an unreachable destination.
When she meets a girl called Shirase, who has resolved to travel to Antarctica after her mother disappears, Mari jumps at the opportunity.
Their plans intrigue two other girls – Yuzuki and Hinata – and before long the four of them are heading out on an unforgettable adventure.
Their character design and animation are beautiful, with some stellar and breathtaking environmental designs too.
Every episode is a soulful experience all the way to the climactic finale.
9. Perfect Blue
This is, perhaps, Satoshi Kon’s masterpiece.
Released in 1998, Perfect Blue is a thriller movie revolving around parasocial relationships and the woes of fame.
After leaving the pop idol group CHAM!, Mima decides to pursue an acting career. Yet she doesn’t realize how obsessed some of her fans are, particularly one man who refuses to believe she has left CHAM!… Soon she finds her new career far more intense and stressful than she’d imagined.
What follows is a dissolution of the walls between reality and fantasy, with fiction constantly encroaching on Mima’s sanity.
It’s got some stellar animation and art direction, sure. But also displays a wonderful knowledge of sound design and direction.
Perfect Blue is an all-time great anime movie for anyone into idol themes.
8. Death Parade
Death Parade is set in a bar representative of Limbo.
Every day, two people enter without any memory of their lives, and must face off against one another in a bar game (pool, darts, cards, twister) to determine whether they should be sentenced to Heaven or Hell.
It’s a wonderfully poignant and philosophical show with a remarkably short runtime, comprising complex musings on morality and virtue through the eyes of ‘objective justice’ that keeps you questioning every episode.
Accompanying all this is a cast of intriguing characters – bar staff, more or less – that keep a moving plot behind the episodic scenes, climaxing in an emotional ending.
7. The Tatami Galaxy
At last, we’ve arrived at Masaaki Yuasa’s magnum opus.
After a university experience comprising of loneliness and introversion, Watashi realizes he’s wasted some of the most important moments of his life.
This woe is thankfully transformed into an opportunity when he’s sent back in time to his first day and given the chance to try it all over again.
The Tatami Galaxy is a bizarre yet human exploration of living in the moment and seizing the day, exploring a man with regret given another opportunity at life.
The animation and art design is stellar, constantly in motion and zany, yet capable of moments of soft emotion. It showcases Yuasa’s distinct eye for humanity and personality through visual expressionism.
A must watch for any fan of heartfelt yet mature anime, and one of my favorite productions of all time.
6. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
After losing their mother, Al & Ed attempt human transmutation to bring her back – Ed loses his left leg, and his younger brother loses his body.
To keep Al’s soul in reality, Ed sacrifices his right arm to affix it to a suit of armor.
FMA: Brotherhood follows them three years later as they search for the Philosopher’s Stone, a fabled device supposedly able to overrule the law of equivalent exchange.
This is arguably the highest regarded anime of all time, telling a tight and concise tale of overcoming trial and error through determination and training without any filler.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of the greatest, cleanest, most well-produced anime ever released. And it deserves its universal praise.
Granted it may falter at moments, but the next episode immediately picks things up; it’s a rollercoaster of emotion and action climaxing in a beautiful ending.
Chihaya doesn’t have any ambitions of her own, being good enough at track field yet not inspired by it.
At a young age she meets Arata Wataya, a new transfer student who’s been ostracized for his weird personality and love for Karuta, a traditional Japanese card game exclusively using Japanese poems in its rules.
She’s amazed by Arata, his ambition, and by Karuta as a sport.
Fast forwarding to the main events of Chihayafuru, and Chihaya is a teenager; Arata moved away a long time ago, and their mutual friend Taichi is her closest friend – though he sees her as more than a friend and wants to prove that through Karuta.
This might be one of the best executed love triangles I’ve ever seen, spread across (as of this writing) three seasons of hyper-stylized excitement and passion.
It’s hype as all hell, with the tournaments serving as beautiful moments of diegetic storytelling, as well as climactic set pieces.
The characters are all wonderful, dynamic, and realistically depicted, all dealing with their own demons… yet bonded through their love for a seemingly innocuous and rapidly fading ancient card game.
It’s such a love letter to something that may have otherwise been forgotten, introducing the world to a small sport that can carry tons of meaning.
After making the morally centered decision to save a young boy’s life instead of aiding the Mayor, Dr. Tenma is ostracized and demoted, abandoned by his fiancé and his colleagues.
Years later, with only the firm resolve that he’d made the right decision to accompany him, Dr. Tenma discovers something horrible about the boy he saved: the boy is now a serial killer, warped by nature and nurture.
Wrecked with responsibility and trauma, Dr. Tenma decides to take matters into his own hands and investigate the situation.
But the police are seeing him as more of a suspicious contender for the grisly events occurring around him.
Monster is absolutely wonderfully realized, being 74-episodes of perfectly adapted thriller. Truly never losing its stellar pace or sense of identity.
There’s so much to love about Monster, from the artistic direction lifted straight from the manga, through to the wonderful voice acting (both Japanese and English) that sells the mature content of the series.
It’s unique. A near-one-of-a-kind thriller that I wish we had more of.
Two girls, Nana Komatsu and Nana Osaki, meet by total coincidence on a train.
After getting on, they forget to exchange details. But both end up at the same open house, eager to purchase the property.
After some deliberation, they decide to share the place.
And so began a story of two entirely different girls. It’s a stellar Josei, with some raw and usually unseen (for anime) dramatic plot points keeping it constantly engaging.
The sound design, like the characters, is always in harmony with the narrative, brimming with identity and charm no matter how harrowing the content may get.
Like many current anime: I wish we had more here, because Nana is a currently unfinished masterpiece.
2. Death Note
I couldn’t help myself here. Death Note may be one of the most well-known, most frequently seen, and most discussed anime ever created.
But it deserves this place.
I, unlike many, feel as though it’s fantastic throughout its entire run, being subversive and constantly engaging yet narratively satisfying.
Any mistakes made are usually to a detriment, a deadly causality, in this cat and mouse detective thriller between two geniuses across a supernaturally-embedded Japan.
The animation is stellar, with the art design coming straight from the manga (and therefore looking just as good). But nothing matches it’s widely-celebrated and gorgeous soundtrack.
Grandiose orchestras, harps, grand pianos, cellos; it’s the accompanying music to a spiritual battleground.
Truly one of the best anime of all time.
1. Hunter x Hunter
Hunter x Hunter, like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, manages to tell a concise shounen tale set across a diversely populated fantasy world.
It’s brimming with charm and character, comprising both lighthearted and dark moments with complete and delicate ease.
The soundtrack is engaging and suitable, accentuating the dynamic action or exploration occurring on screen.
HxH is just such a treat to watch. And it managed to tell a handful of entirely different yet canonically resonant arcs that helps the experience never grow stale.
At no point was I bored across its legendary 148-episode run. And I’d gladly consume another season!
This is, in my opinion, the definitive Madhouse project, featuring some of their greatest artistic direction across a large and spanning story.